I love making memories with my kids. I enjoy taking them places and sharing new experiences with them. I hope these experiences have an impact on them as they continue to grow and learn about history, science, government, sports, civic service, etc. However, that goes without saying that taking kids on trips is hard work!! It down right sucks sometimes. Meltdowns, unforeseen traffic or weather snags, flight changes (any parent who has been stranded in an airport with children needs a gold metal or a strong drink). The list could go on and on. Or the child who has to be dragged around and makes the trip miserable for everyone. I have experienced all of the above.
I love history, therefore I subject me children to a lot of historical related trips. This includes historical homes, battle fields, museums, etc. They are good sports about it, most of the time. One of my favorite historical figures is Thomas Jefferson. Even though a flawed man in many ways, he was also a very brilliant man when it came to government, writing, science, agriculture, etc. I had the opportunity to take a private tour of Jefferson’s home in conjunction with a grant I received to do some research at their local library on the property. I loved everything about his home. To walk where Jefferson walked, to be surrounded by his books, science experiments, and collections was incredible. So, why not take my older son there (the other was not born yet).
Kale was 3 ½ and I remember us walking up the steps to Monticello and our guide gave a frown to Kale. But the tours are child friendly but he was on the young side. Half-way through the tour, we were in the parlor and Kale started to sing and would not stop. I pulled him aside and he still kept it up. The tour guide walked us over to a side door that led out to the portico and she politely asked for us to step out of the tour. Kale and I stood there as she closed the glass doors behind us. Mind you my mother was with us, and I am pretty sure she was pretending to not know us.
Kale and I walked out onto Jefferson’s lawn and he looked at me and I said, “Way to go buddy, you got us kicked out.” He still looked puzzled and he said, “Kicked out?” I responded with “Yes, we are out.” It sunk in at this point and he threw himself on the ground and threw the most ridiculous tantrum on Jefferson’s lawn. I am not sure what Jefferson would have thought had he be standing there. I often question myself as a parent in regards to taking my kids to places like this? Will they remember it; will they care; do they understand the significance of it; will it influence them in some way?
As much of a pain it is to travel with kids and take them to places like Monticello, I would still do it. Taking them to Disney Land or Lego Land would be just as challenging if not more due to crowds, lines, etc. But we still do it. Some of own happiest childhood memories are wrapped up in family vacations, trips the lake or the beach, seeing a musical or play, or taking a trip to a theme park or historical site.
Today, I am just better prepared. My type A overtakes me when it comes to trip planning and organizing right down to zip lock one-gallon plastic bags that are filled in a neat order with snacks, so I don’t constantly have to be handing back gummy snacks or granola bars while driving. All electronics are charged; dvd’s stored in the car; books and coloring books organized; etc. (God forbid my kids look the window on their trips, like most of us did as kids).
I pre-buy all tickets so we don’t’ wait in lines. We research the place, get a map, know where we want to go. Plus, as my kids get older, it gets easier. The more we do, the better they are at responding to situations. Less tantrums on presidential lawns. But I also know (realistically) that part of the trip is going to have challenges, kids will act up, fights will occur, arguments, etc. Part of it might possibly suck. But I am realistic in expecting some of these things to happen. I also travel with wine now.
One thought on “Vacationing with Kids is not a Vacation”
I love the Monticello story :-)! Probably not the first meltdown that happened there. You are so right – traveling with kids is hard work, but so rewarding in the end. We started traveling with Seth and Sara when they were toddlers. They learn so much and gain confidence, among other skills. Adults now, they still love traveling and have surpassed their parents in the scope of their travels. It does get easier as they get older and is so much fun. Keep up the good work, Natalie! I know you have many great adventures ahead.
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